DVD: Graham Chapman on Keith Moon
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 27 06:24:31 CDT 2005
>From DVD Talk at:
Monty Python's Graham Chapman - Looks Like A Brown
Rykodisc // Unrated // $19.95 // April 26, 2005
Review by John Sinnott
Graham Chapman is, of course, one of the founding
members of Monty Python's Flying Circus. His writing
partner was John Cleese and in addition to playing
various characters in the show itself, he stared as
King Arthur in The Holy Grail, and was Brian in Life
of Brian. After the group's breakup, Graham had a
number of projects also; he wrote and stared in the
universally panned movie Yellowbeard, and penned his
memoirs, A Liar's Autobiography Volume IV.
While publicizing his book, he made some public
appearances where he took questions from the audience.
From this he hatched the idea of a short tour, and in
1988 he appeared on several college campuses telling
some of the stories he's collected over the years.
Happily, a couple of these talks were filmed, and now
Arts Magic has released them under the unlikely title
Looks Like a Brown Trouser Job.
Chapman was one of the Pythons with the most surreal
senses of humor, and some of that comes across in this
show. This isn't a stand up act though, it's more of
a lecture, where Graham tells some very amusing
anecdotes about his life and his friends.
He starts of talking about how he became a member of
the Dangerous Sports Club, without doing any dangerous
sports by the way, and the type of stunts the members
would pull. He then moves on the some funny stories
about Keith Moon (the drummer from The Who) and
teaches the audience how to play a game he learned in
medical school called "shitties." It has to be seen
to be believed.
The early days of Monty Python are discussed, as well
as how he and John Cleese would write their sketches,
though his days with Python were not covered as
extensively as I would have liked.
The question and answer session at the end of the show
was one of the most interesting, though some of the
questions were pretty lame. In this section he talks
about how they came up with the coconuts in Holy
Grail, as well as his thoughts on Life of Brian, and
the movie's detractors. It was pretty interesting to
hear his opinion of Terry Gilliam's talents as a
This is a very amusing show. Chapman's delivery is
very good, and he know exactly when to pause for comic
effect. Many of the stories elicit laughs, but this
isn't an outrageous comedy like Monty Python was.
It's more like listening to an amusing friend tell
some funny stories.
This disc will obviously be appealing to die-hard
Monty Python fans, but only those who are really
interested in every aspect of the show and its cast.
The show is entertaining, but not much more than that.
It isn't as funny as a stand-up comedy routine, and
you dont really get to learn a lot about Python or
even what Chapman was like as a person. Having said
that, the show does provide a few good laughs.
The video quality to this DVD is really, really poor.
This was filmed under the supervision of Graham
Chapman, according to the opened text that apologies
for the sub par video quality, but this really looks
like it was recorded on a low grade VHS camcorder.
And about a third or fourth generation copy. The
image was very blurry and out of focus, and looked
like an amateur job.
The two channel mono soundtrack didn't sound very good
either. The show was pieced together from two
different lectures, and while one sounded a bit better
than the other, neither were clear. The audio was
obviously recorded off of a microphone in the hall and
not off of the sound board since there is an annoying
echo throughout the whole show. A rather strong hum
is also audible which gets rather distracting. It is
also rather hard to hear many of the questions that
the audience asks, even though they were speaking into
a microphone. Both the audio and video of this disc
is very well below average.
There are a good amount of extras on this disc that
are sure to please Python fans. First off are several
audio only bits of interviews with Graham, about eight
minutes in all. There are also seven bonus video
clips. Four are extra questions that Graham answered
during his lectures, and there is also a TV commercial
for Solagas (a double paned glass company), a bungee
jump bit he did for a telethon, and an Iron Maiden
video, Can I Play with Madness which was his last
appearance on camera before he died.
There is also a "Chapmanography," a text based
biography with listings of his books, films and
Graham Chapman died in 1989 and it is nice that this
is available for hard core Python fans. Though even
the casual fan of the show will find many of the
anecdotes amusing, there isnt a lot of replay value
to this disc. After youve heard the stories once,
they most likely will loose their impact, the exact
opposite of the Monty Python shows themselves. The
audio and video quality is really dismal, and is
another reason that this disc has limited replay
value. It looks and sounds more like a bootleg VHS
tape than a recently released DVD. This disc is a
Rental at best.
-Brian in Atlanta
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